Nichole Nordeman

This Mystery

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In the mirror universe that is the world of Contemporary Christian Music, there are artists and styles corresponding to those in contemporary popular music; it's just the subject matter of the lyrics that is different. Nichole Nordeman is CCM's answer to current female singer-songwriters like Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos (with a heavy influence from Amy Grant thrown in); a sensitive, thoughtful writer who sings expressively, usually over a piano-based pop-rock accompaniment. Since Amos herself has a religious background that, however rejected, comes through in her imagery, and McLachlan is given to singing about angels, the leap isn't really that far. It is further diminished by Nordeman's willingness to meet doubters halfway: Unlike most CCM performers, she doesn't write only praise songs, but rather explores the ups and downs of the "personal relationship" with Christ that believers claim, and even engages with non-believers. The latter comes up especially on her second album, This Mystery; in "Fool for You" she goes so far in acknowledging the points made by doubters as to note, "Maybe it's true" before confirming her own simple, childlike faith. That faith, she admits, is based on mysteries, and in describing it she often returns to childhood, as in "Help Me Believe" in which she recalls being eight or nine, and "Small Enough," which calls on God to reduce Himself to something that can be comprehended and appreciated by mere humans. Nordeman is more concerned with religion as a process than as an accomplished fact -- "I believe in the quest and the journey," she sings in "Home." That may not sit well with the more doctrinaire of Christians, but those who struggle daily with reconciling their faith to contemporary life are likely to respond favorably.

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